Overnight was cold and the change in the sound of the slapping of wavelets against the boat’s hull registered a change of wind. Awakening properly in the morning showed the opening of the awning pushing inwards indicating a full 180 degree change and a freshening to 12 to 14 knots. The wind was now blowing almost straight down the first section of the narrow dyke presenting an immediate challenge.
The first part of the dyke from the mooring area was quite narrow and so it was important to get a good start. Richard quanted across to the other bank to be on what was marginally the weather side. He then pulled up to the end of the mooring area of the bank where the reeds started and set off. He only made a couple of tacks before having to resort to landing Danny who pulled the boat through until the dyke turned slightly allowing sailing to start again. For us, we pulled along the lee bank and used that momentum to get across to the windward bank. Then we set our sails some 30 yards back from the reeds so as to get a start to the sailing with the extra foot or two of width. As a result we got a bit further up the cut before needing to resort to mechanical assistance, this time with the quant as we were so much closer to the bend that a few quants were sufficient to get us round.
For here the sailing was a real test of judgement as we needed to exploit every available inch of the width to gain as much to windward on each tack as possible without stalling either by getting too close to the reeds or hitting the mud under our keel. Once round the sharp bend after Martham Broad the tacking become a long and a short tack allowing the exploitation of the Hustler’s characteristic of seeming to be able to shoot the wind when sailing close alongside a solid bank.
We arrived at Potter Heigham and lowered away before quanting through the two bridges. In our normal mooring spot just after the medieval bridge there was a construction barge so we had to pick up a Herbert Woods mooring further down. A trip to the shops to replace supplies followed by putting on one reef. The wind had been fresh all morning and was forecast to increase a bit. So, as we were heading for very open country a reef would keep the boat more controllable and we were on our way to the Lion at Thurne for lunch.
After lunch we continued past St benet’s Abbey (remains) and up the river.
Heading for Horning we first enjoyed the freedom of the the broader Bure but still taking advantage of the width, especially as it becomes more tree lined as there are frequently good puffs to be found near the ends of each tack. On one close encounter we shook some small cones from the tree with the back of the sail. When we came to tidy up and sweep the bits overside we found a trailing fishing lure was amongst them. What it was doing ten feet up a tree on a length of river with inaccessible banking I don’t know!
On the approach to the mooring outside The Swan in Horning we brushed another tree, a weeping willow this time, and came to a complete and sudden halt as the green weeping leaves concealed a broken branch that protruded several feet over the water. This caught on the topping lift and stopped the boat which then drifted sideways onto the rather rotten wooden piling. We were met with a string of unhelpful anglo saxon abuse from a ‘gentleman’ who said, in effect, ‘why are you yachties always doing that?’. The answer is simple. The tree needs attention as the hazard is concealed. We resumed our journey and moored doubled up at The Swan.
A pleasant evening with some good Spitfire and decent grub. The pub’s kitchen closed early for staff training as they were introducing a new menu the following day. Very friendly bar and waiting staff plus an excellent selection of single malts.